After piecing together a college career that saw him set two different NCAA receptions records, Zay Jones' play translated well over to the 2017 Senior Bowl.
For four years, Zay Jones was nearly automatic every time he was targeted by one of East Carolina's quarterbacks, as he finished his college career with FBS records in career (399) and single-season (158) reception totals.
As a true freshman in 2013, the Austin, Texas, native – who chose East Carolina over Arkansas State and Colorado – was the Pirates' second-leading receiver with 62 catches for 604 yards and five touchdowns. That production didn't slow down any once he became more of a known threat across college football.
During his junior season in 2015, Jones became just the eighth player in East Carolina history to record a 1,000-yard season.
Then came his senior season.
Starting with a 10-catch, 180-yard performance against Western Carolina in the regular season opener, Jones finished the year with 10 different games with double-digit reception totals. On Sept. 17 in a narrow defeat to South Carolina, Jones recorded a school-record 22 receptions. In total, he finished with an FBS-record 158 receptions.
His strong play carried over to last week's Senior Bowl, as he strung together three solid days of practices before being the best wide receiver in the week-concluding game, catching six passes for 68 yards and a touchdown reception with less than two minutes remaining in the game.
But it was his two additional touchdown receptions that didn't count – one due to a penalty and another on an unreviewable catch – that stole the show.
The catches grabbed the attention of Pro Football Hall of Fame wide receiver Jerry Rice:
"My goal is just to remove all doubt," Jones said of participating in the Senior Bowl. "I think a lot of people were talking about how my numbers were inflated, how I didn't have many yards per catch, and how I was just a product of ECU's system. But I feel like I'm really overcoming that and showing that I can compete at a high level."
Take a look at photos from the 2017 Senior Bowl.
According to Senior Bowl's performance reports, Jones had the game's heaviest workload and the wide receiver clocked the second fastest run.
Those are important in overcoming some questions about his frame, although his 6-foot-2, 202-pound listing on the Senior Bowl's official roster were actually slightly bigger than what he was listed as East Carolina.
"Usually guys are taller on their college roster, but I was really happy that got the extra measurement," Jones said. "I've been working on my weight to get it up to run faster while going up against these bigger guys and it is really improving."
Jones hopes to follow in the footsteps of his older brother, Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Cayleb Jones, into the NFL.
"I have a great family who have supported me along the way," Jones said. "I have an older brother playing for the Vikings. A younger brother coming up who is an Under Armour All-American, and I'm the runt of the family trying to keep up with them."